Every word from Ten Hag's press conference: Part two

Friday 29 December 2023 22:30

Erik ten Hag was asked further questions about working with INEOS, before the talk turned to other topics in the second section of his pre-match press conference for Manchester United's away clash with Nottingham Forest.

The game itself was not on the agenda; instead, the reporters present at Carrington went fishing for lines on player contracts, replacing goalkeeper Andre Onana during the Africa Cup of Nations, and the tactics he deployed in Tuesday's swashbuckling victory over Aston Villa.

You can watch part two of his media briefing below or scroll down to read a full transcript.
Part two: Press conference v Forest Video

Part two: Press conference v Forest

Press conference part two | Ten Hag discusses INEOS, our winter break, Anthony Martial, Andre Onana and more...

Erik, what is it... you've always praised the setup at Manchester United and everything you have behind you... what is it about INEOS and their background that makes you think it's going to change anything for the better?
“So I can say at this moment because I'm looking forward to the talks with them, but they are... so, in other clubs they have experience in other sports. They have a lot of experience, a lot about performance. They have a lot of knowledge. So I'm really looking forward to how they can contribute and I'm sure they can. And so we have to pick the things. Football is a very complicated sport, especially at the top. So I'm sure they will contribute. They will help us to achieve our high ambitions.”

And when you refer to setbacks that no other club could handle [in press conference part one], every club has injuries. What other setbacks are you referring to, apart from injuries?

“But I can't list that. And the press conference takes 45 minutes to list all the injuries we have had. I haven't [got time], come on. I think we have had nine, 10 partnerships in centre backs, for instance. And that's only one thing. But I said also many times more, that can't be an excuse. We have to win. We have to win every game. And I think sometimes we were pragmatic, but, for instance against Villa, you see our style, you see our identity, how we can play, how quick we can play, and also how we can build up from the back. So I think we have a lot of things where it can really help us, that we can be confident and have a big belief in this group of players. We have a good team. You have seen this period and we can deal with the setbacks. So, if players come back, we will be stronger and then we can make also from this season, we can make a success.”
Last year you took the players to Cadiz during the World Cup. Given this winter break coming up, are you going to go away to a training camp or just train here at Carrington?
“No, we will stay here.”

What?! That's a shame for all of us.

“You're not happy with it?”

We'd have liked to have got some sun!
“No sun!”

What was the thinking behind that? Is it just the familiarity [of Carrington]?
“But it's a different season. And last year there was the World Cup. And so we went there with a group of players who were not involved in the World Cup. We gave them some weeks off before, but now it's totally different and the players are loaded in games. So we have to make a very good programme about giving the players rest, time to relax, but also to set the right programme to prepare for the second half of the season.”

Ten Hag's team news for Forest trip


Erik ten Hag delivers the latest update on his squad, before our final fixture of 2023.

Just going back on the absences for the game, I think Anthony Martial has been unwell for nearly three weeks now. Is he okay? Is it a bad case of illness?
“Yeah, so he's unwell. He's not available.”

You mentioned twice there that INEOS want to work with you. Is it fair to assume from that you've had some sort of contact with them and reassurance from the club and INEOS that you are their man basically?
“So, from the start of the process, I was kept informed, first by Richard Arnold and later on by Patrick Stewart. So I know everything. I know every detail, how the meetings are and how the talks are, how the agreements are. And, now it is just to settle down and give us some time. I have to talk with them and not with you about this, and then we will see. But I'm sure, I'm very positive about the messages.”

A number of players are out of contract in the summer. Varane, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka, Hannibal and Anthony Martial. I know you normally say to us that you will let us know when we've got some news, but we're now two days away from...
“Exactly! We will do it immediately, so don't worry. So just be patient and wait.”

[Two days away] from when those players can start talking to foreign clubs, so is there any news on those contracts or extensions?
“But we talk with the players and of course with the agents and so this is an internal process between us, the club, and the players, and I can't debate this in here.”
Erik, as you said, you've never made excuses for all the injuries, off-field issues with players, all the uncertainty over the ownership. Now the INEOS thing is clearer, players are coming back, other issues are sort of calmer, less frenetic schedule, do you feel like a weight is going to be lifted off a lot of the club and you can move forward with a lot more optimism and confidence over the coming months?
“I think we are very optimistic. So when the players are returning, then [it's like] we have five or six new signings in January.”

If Andre Onana departs for AFCON, he'll be unavailable for at least two games. You've spoken before about how you're happy with the goalkeeping group. What can we expect from Altay Bayindir or Tom Heaton if they were to come in?
“I never talk in 'if' so we are prepared for this. So we constructed the squad that we are prepared for this scenario.”

You've spoken before about the need to have three goalkeepers as well. Is there any chance you promote a youth goalkeeper or perhaps a short-term loan?

“When we have news, we will let you know.”

'Hojlund is going to score more goals'


Erik ten Hag and the fans are backing Rasmus to kick on following his winner against Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

Can I add a tactical question here? (“A what?”) Can I ask you about tactics?
“Tactics? Yes. What do you want to know?”

After Aston Villa, you said that in your half-time team talk, you told your full-backs to push higher, to engage higher. How do you make sure your full-backs do this from minute one rather than minute 45? How do you do it consistently?
“Ah, but it depends also from game to game, if you talk about tactics. So, where are the spaces? And in which timings have you attacked those spaces? And that depends from game to game. Sometimes you want your full-backs in some parts of the game to be low but they have to know when they have to come high and that is tactics.”

So against Villa, who play with a very high line, you wanted them to be high up?
“It was not only about the full-backs. I think our plan was clear, to get in behind. I think, during the whole game, I think we made it several times and I think we did it very good against them.”